Teaching Screenagers

Teaching Screenagers
My life in the fastlane

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shift Happens, and Other Classroom Media Issues

Today in my classroom I am bombarded with thoughts about using Social Media as a means of writing instruction. Not just with iPods, but using a multitude of different media options with my students. The iPods have opened the door to a new world of media literally at your fingertips. I shared this video on my own teacher webpage to explain to my families and students how our world is changing from the use of technology.

The second video has also been shared with my students and parents. It has been a difficult journey for me this year because teaching with technology demands not only knowledge of the tool, but creating a climate in which students see this tool as a way to communicate and interact in socially responsible ways. There have been issues with students still thinking this is a toy, a game, a portable music player. How do I inspire students to truly see this as an opportunity to communicate through a new and modern and immediate medium?

The answer is as simple and as difficult as lesson design. When working with this new tool I struggle to find meaningful ways for students to use iPods as ways to create and share ideas that they couldn't on pencil and paper. Is student engagement up when they write the letter to a multiple choice answer using the app Glowdraw? Absolutely, but I have to ask myself is that really any different than whiteboards or finger signals? No, not really, so I pushed forward.

When asking students to summarize notes in history, we used the app Storykit to create summary books on the geographical areas of India. In this case, I felt success in that students took the time to synthesize information, take photos and self edit their work. The struggle is how to publish this work for more than one student to see. There in lies the continuous evaluation of projects. Hopefully I will be able to put some samples on this site soon. My team is helping me figure out the logistics, oh the challenges of the pilot year!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Continued Debate of the Influence of Technology in Education

This week I continue to marvel at the amount of debate about public education in the United States. There is no doubt we are at a crossroads and it will be a very interesting time in our classrooms over the next few years. This week I think I have been more discouraged over the rhetoric across this nation bashing the work of both students and teachers in public education. We as teachers need to not only stand up for our profession, we more importantly need to stand up for our students and what we feel are the best instructional tools and practices to serve their changing needs.

I think bringing technology into the classroom is a way to bridge the gap between educational practice and real world application. For example, the debate on test preparation. Here is a video from middle school students on the value of studying for class and for the the high stakes test. I shared this with my students in class and on my web page to inspire my kids to write their own raps teaching us how to do something. This week we taught each other poetry terms, and with an average of 87 percent on the weekly quiz, I think they internalized the terms better and got more enjoyment from the process. We are currently voting for the best raps in the class to publish as a complete song for review next week before our chapter test. Would they have been as motivated to learn the terms without this creative opportunity? i sincerely doubt it.

Another thought, Why hasn't technology revolutionized education?

I remember when my first Apple 2E came into my classroom with the 4 inch floppy discs and green screen with the blipping lights across the front. Today my kids held their iPods in their hands and created pages in a StoryKit book while they read about the Ancient Hebrews. Within a couple of lessons, students will take notes, publish and share their work all from the palm of their hand. That is a revolution in instruction, but it is also a change in what we are trying to teach our students.

In Educational Leadership this month by ACSD, the topic is "What Students Need To Learn". I think that is the next revolution in education, and definitely a change in my own classroom even in this pilot program. What do we need to teach and why do students need to know it? The question of revolutionizing education through technology isn't about the tools themselves, but the thought process behind how and why we use them. This is an interesting blog about just this topic, check it out!

Why Hasn't Technology Revolutionized Education? Guitar Heroes, Inspiration, and Technology Adoption

And finally, some exciting news that I think will take us to the next steps in revolutionizing our classrooms. TedTalks is launching a new program focusing just on educational issues. Learn more by joining this exciting discussion on line.

#TED launches exciting new educational initiative! Educators, students, & creatives, learn more here: http://bit.ly/ggUKNN @TED_ED

Next week we continue to create our social studies storykit books and will be publishing our poetry on line.
Looking forward to sharing our progress.